This was one of these episodes that inspired a myriad of post titles. “A smart looking guy”, “An un-individualistic face”… in the end I had to go with Probatio Diabolica because it was just too cool.

Ok, I thought it was cool which might not be the best reference. Probation Diabolica is what Dojima said was on the blank car plates. It’s also a relatively obscure legal term used when it is believed that the burden of proof is unreasonable. It’s actually described as a logical dilemma that while evidence will prove the existence of something, the lack of evidence fails to disprove it. As in while substantial evidence may prove the devil’s existence, there is no evidence that denies the devil’s existence; therefore, one cannot deny the devil’s existence. Impossible proof.

You gotta admit, that’s a fun little thing to slip into a show like Pretty Boy Detective Club. Especially in this arc!

I’m gonna roughly divide the episodes into two halves. The one with Soutoin’s brother and the one with the Vice-President. But before we get started, that was quite the surprise fanservice opening. There was an odd, detached quality to it and I think just the pure bizarreness of the scene made me enjoy it quite a bit. It really was a snarky send-off to harem tropes, both reverse and traditional.

Also before we get started, let me share this with you. It’s basically what I attempt and fail to do in my living room every Sunday. YouTube seemed to want to mock me by recommending the video but it backfired as I have been enjoying it tremendously!

Ok, let’s start with the actual episode. No wait, one more story thought. Have I mentioned that Pretty Boy Detective club is a beautiful show?

In the first half of the episode with got to meet the founder of the Pretty Boy Detective Club and the older brother of the current leader. And he was a guy. As Dojima put it, a smart-looking guy. I can’t possibly hope to capture or explain the scene. There were a lot of words of course but particularly poignant. Or at least, they spoke to me.

Odoru Soutouin was once Odourou the storyteller. And I have to admit, few things are as beautiful or frightening as the storyteller. But now, he’s just not anymore. And Dojima has this monologue, the tales of the past and she just muses that he’s a nice, polite ordinary guy and he no longer thinks about being pretty, or being a boy, or being a detective. He’s definitely an old friend but he’s not part of the team anymore. It was a cutting speech.

The subtext is obvious. A sort of melancholy on the things we give up when we grow up. on how magic fades and everyone must become an adult someday. Dojima and Nagahiro wonder if they’ll forget their time being Pretty Boy Detectives. They don’t tend to say that Manabu looks a lot like his brother. And the unspoken message that is nevertheless screaming through the first half is ordinary isn’t pretty.

Dojima’s school election posters are amazing! I would hang that on my wall!

The things, you might thing someone is dull and ordinary when in fact they are extraordinary and fascinating and it’s just tat you have failed to see it. Even a mundane and un-striking sort of guy can be keeping an astonishing secret.

I was still spinning from that first half when I got thrown in the rollercoaster that was the second. So many likely and thematically significant theories were brought up and then discarded in just about 10 minutes. Not to mention that we got to meet the world’s friendliest ice princess. I haven’t seen Frozen, I could be wrong. The Vice-president was very charming and outgoing is what I’m saying.

I did not dislike the theory that there had been no accident. That the vice-president actually wanted a directional change in the school leadership and had made up an excuse to drop out. It’s a good explanation, logical and realistic. It opens up the possibility of some sort of betrayal and of course potential tragedy for the club. Narratively, it works quite well if a little uninspired.

But uninspired would be a travesty for Pretty Boy Detective Club. Unacceptable! And of course, that’s just not what it is. In the Edogawa story, it’s one of the short stories about his detective Akechi of course, there’s that classic trope where the narrator (who isn’t the detective) gathers all the other characters and basically tells them exactly what happened. What really did happen was not that interesting but the narrator’s version of events is amazing. He suggests that the murderer can turn invisible and that Akechi himself is in fact the culprit. And the story is written so there’s a lot of evidence to support that. Edogawa was a very whimsical author. Of course, the truth turns out to be much duller, I,m guessing Ranpo didn’t want to turn his tales into surrealist comedies.

I think Pretty Boy Detective Club is a realization of all that whimsy and folly that Edogawa hinted at but ultimately held back from in his tales. And I really love it.

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4 thoughts

  1. Based on the screenshots it looks like the animation got particularly sharp here. Or maybe it just seems that way? The lighting is fantastic in the images above at least, even more so than usual. I haven’t really kept up with what’s going on here story-wise but as it seems very character driven it’s probably something that I should really start at the beginning for.

    1. I’m not sure I noticed any change in the animation. This show has always used a sort of stilted animation technique with a lot of stills. It’s rather stylistic and clearly on purpose.
      The art style may have been a dit more striking this episode. I know the colour palettes were way more dramatic and that showed off the details more in my opinion.
      In any case, I think it’s a beautiful series with awesome visuals.

  2. This is the most interesting Pretty Boy arc so far.

    There’s another bit of subtext… Childhood’s End.

    “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” The notion of childhood as precious and magical and yet fleeting is strong here.

    It seems the school administration doesn’t think that childhood is efficient and would do away with it. The members of the detective club are trying hard to protect Manabu’s childhood. The whole club is just an expression of childhood at the beginning of adolescence. “You’ll always be a scum” is a way of saying Mayumi will always keep part of that inner child alive in a society where childhood is thought to be less than admirable.

    Childhood as we understand it – a protected period of play and innocence – didn’t exist in the West until the 19th century. Unless you were an elite, from the day you could do any useful work you were considered a little adult. Dickens had a lot to do with today’s concept.

    I loved the massage scene. I LOVED the massage scene. Perfect representation of the transition from the innocent to the aware, while still a bit of both.

    1. I saw that subtext as well. I called it growing up in my post but it was definetly very important throughout the episode!

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